3 Crucial games left that could bolster Giannis Antetokounmpo's 2023-24 MVP case

Milwaukee Bucks v Los Angeles Lakers
Milwaukee Bucks v Los Angeles Lakers / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages
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1. Celtics vs Bucks - March 20th

This is the one. It has to be. I'm not saying the other games don't matter, but if there's going to be a swing, it has to start at the TD Garden.

On the one hand, there are so many reasons that it's hard to start counting them. On the other hand, it feels so obvious that it's barely necessary.

Celtics are the team to beat in the East. They have put themselves into this position thanks to one of the best regular seasons in NBA history, and they're so upfront in the standings that it seems nothing can change that feeling. Not even a 37-point difference at the half in Milwaukee in January did. But another loss against the same team could cause things to change a little bit.

Beating up Boston in January didn't change Milwaukee's perspective that much because that game felt out of nowhere. There wasn't a natural progression in the team's development that made people believe they were getting better. It just felt like they flipped a coin and it came up heads the same way it could have come up tails, like it happened three days prior when they were beat by the Utah Jazz.

That's not the case anymore. The Bucks are really feeling better now, and they have pulled off some impressive wins, like the one in Minnesota or the one against Denver. So, the Boston game could actually be a turning point for both teams. Not that it will mean anything come playoff time, but it will either enforce the Celtics as the best team in the East after beating Milwaukee in their best stretch of the season, or it will set some clouds over the theoretical Boston dominance if the Bucks win and people feel they are reaching their full potential right before postseason.

But wait. Weren't we talking about Giannis' MVP case? That's true, but this is all relevant. Because the thing with Antetokounmpo isn't that people don't think he's great, but instead that they are not sure if the Bucks are. Jokic, however, checks both scores. He's not only outstanding as a player, but he also makes this very Nuggets team the biggest championship contender, as proven last year. And it feels there is only one way for Giannis to establish the Bucks as one of the few S-Tier teams: winning a real face-to-face matchup in Boston.

The Bucks and Celtics will meet again in April at Fiserv Forum, and that game could be a boost, too, but, as was the case with OKC, winning on the road would feel way more significant. Also, we can expect Boston to have secured the first seed by that point, so they probably won't be taking their April games all that seriously.

They know they cannot let what happened in January repeat in Boston. They will go with their 100 percent. If Giannis can lead the Bucks to a win in that context, some well-established narratives will start to shake.

Could the MVP race be one of them? It is likely.